Politically correct outcry is reaching critical mass and getting really annoying. “Cultural Appropriation”, the idea that being influenced by other cultures and refering to or imitating parts of them is an issue and not a driving force in an artistic context is mindboggingly stupid. Every piece of popular music from the past 100 years was born out of different cultures meeting one another. If anything, it should be celebrated, not frowned upon. 

When I saw Phil Elverum live a couple of years ago, he played scandinavian black metal wearing flip-flops + japanese split-toe socks while singing about nature and isolation with a soft, boyish voice. At the time all these things clashed with one another and it felt like he was having fun but lacked any of the artistic ambition that had pushed him to release spellbinding music. None of the following Mount Eerie records, despite occasional moments of grace, managed to convince me otherwise, until Sauna. 

In Sauna, Elverum seems to have fully digested all the different elements he has been experimenting with in all the previous Mount Eerie releases. It’s easily his best record since the Glow pt2, It’s different, colder, less romantic, but also very similar in the way it manages to make a lot of very different songs and sounds stick together into a very cohesive whole. 

What’s most striking is the way black metal has merged into his songwriting, the essence of it, the heaviness, the coldness, the delivery, but none of the bombast. This is no longer Phil Elverum awkwardly playing black metal. It’s Mount Eerie finally living up to its legacy.


“SAUNA” by Mount Eerie (official video)
from the album Sauna
“ELV036”, Feb. 3rd, 2015 from
P.W. Elverum & Sun
box 1561
Anacortes, Wash.
U.S.A. 98221


First Part (0:00 - 2:10)- Exposition.  The location and purpose of the sauna is described and shown, in this case the massive industrial saunas located near Anacortes, out past beyond the fields, inside the birches.  Their industrial-scale steam stacks and sweat rooms are shown from a distance, as well as their enormous ice-plunge pools and bare lightbulb chill out zones. 

Second Part (2:10 - 3:25)- Transition.  Other Selves appear as superimposed singers.  After a period of time in the sauna your mind starts to transform and become one with all million possible realities.  Your mind (played by Allyson Foster) is freestyle squaredancing alone in an abandoned garage, free from preconceptions, stretching the meaning of cultural signifiers such as “sauna” or “cowboy”. 

Third Part (3:25 - 5:22)- Climax.  Who are you?  Other Selves (Allyson Foster and Ashley Eriksson) are fully vivid, singing in pure tones, shredding on fiddle, enjoying gum, masterfully lassoing, bopping to an unheard rhythm.  The hay bales are wet and rotting, a symbol of the old body you have just shed.  There is carpet in the garage now.  She has a black eye.  Total annihilation.  The words “wild west” finally have meaning, the national identity of Finland and a weather beaten blue tarp.  A new world is here.  Everything is constantly blooming.

Sauna” by Mount Eerie includes:
- two 45rpm high fidelity heavy LPs (black vinyl)
- 11 ¾" x 32 ½" jumbo poster (glossy)
- old style heavy gatefold jackets (full color)
- download card (including weird high res formats)
- plastic bag (not pictured)
- artist’s grubby fingerprints on every copy (signatures superfluous)
- direct postal line from us to you (P.W. Elverum & Sun orders only)
- made in the U.&S.A. (totally)
- cardboard we wrote your name on (P.W. Elverum & Sun orders only)
- a sense of contentment and pride (if you love objects)